Ramon Del Barrio has been in show business for some forty years. At the age of seven he became a Billy The Kid clothing model, officially entering this business we call show. Joining us as we travel through Ramon's life will be such names as JERSEY BOYS, GUYS & DOLLS, Chita Rivera, Donna McKechnie, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Desi Arnaz, Jose Ferrer, Judith Jamison, Des McAnuff, Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett, Lucie Arnaz, and a few others.
Ramon spoke with me from his Las Vegas hotel room, where he just finished a run as Billy Dixon in JERSEY BOYS. He was going to the dentist, shortly after our interview, and the following day he would be flying from Vegas to Miami, which many people would consider similar experiences. The dentist and the airport, that is. However, Ramon was flying his favorite airline, American Airlines to South Florida to take the helm of BABALU as its choreographer and stage director. BABALU plays at the Arsht Center July 8 through the 11th.
Ramon is a sweetheart and you had best pay careful attention to him, because Ramon is very, very, Very smart.
Beau: Did JERSEY BOYS end its run in Las Vegas?
Ramon: Oh no, it'll probably run for at least four more years. My contract was at its end and I had the opportunity to do BABALU in Miami so I chose BABALU. If there was a way, I would have loved to have continued JERSEY BOYS and do BABALU.
Beau: What was the best part of doing JERSEY BOYS in Las Vegas, the salary?
Ramon: The salary, the salary was good, any salary is good. But, Broadway is still the great white way. It was a great run. While I was here I also worked on other projects. There are always other projects, so I got other work done.
Beau: Are Las Vegas audiences different from others?
Ramon: Sometimes they are more vocal. Cheering, bravos, yelling. There is a feeling they are at a rock concert sometimes. But then, Broadway is really rockin' and rollin' right now, isn't it? You have the soft rock from Burt Bacharach in the PROMISES, PROMISES revival, and SPRING AWAKENING, AMERICAN IDIOT, ROCK OF AGES, JERSEY BOYS.
Beau: Ramon I must tell you, I expected you to have an accent, why is that?
Ramon: Because of the name, Ramon. It serves me well, being closer to American/Latin. Where I wanna be. However, it says Raymond on my Equity card.
Beau: If you could sign a contract to work with anybody as a performer or choreographer, with whom would it be and why?
Ramon: I'm excited to be working with Lucie Arnaz now. And all the other people in BABALU. Hopefully some day I will be a supreme, extraordinary triple threat like Lucie Arnaz or the amazing leads of BABALU. Jose Ferrer, one of my mentors told me I had to be a true triple threat; dancing, singing, and acting. Jose Ferrer introduced me to Bob Fosse! I spoke with Bob Fosse for 2 and half hours. Bob Fosse said to me "show me your choreography." I turned down Madonna's MATERIAL GIRL video to meet with Fosse.
Beau: How did the world of musicals come into your life?
Ramon: From the movies. I saw the musical movies long before I ever saw a Broadway show.
Beau: What is your favorite film version of an older Broadway show?
Ramon: OKLAHOMA! I also love the film SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, although, that was an original movie musical, wasn't it? Glorious movies. Unlike the film version of A CHORUS LINE. Which, to put it into one word, was offensive.
Beau: You told me in a previous conversation that you did not gamble in Vegas. What did you do in your free time?